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The Word HinduA long time ago, when people came to visit India, they had to cross a large river. That river was called Sindhu. These people could not say the word Sindhu properly. They called it Hindu instead. Then they started calling the people who lived across the river Hindus. This is how Hindus got their name. The religion of the Hindus is now called Hinduism. A lot of Hindus still live in India, but many have moved to other parts of the world.Sivaneri Life Centre, 2009 1

The Symbol Om Om is an important symbol for Hindus. It is the sound heard in the deepest of meditation. It is said to be the name of God.

Sivaneri Life Centre, 2009


FoundersFounders of religions are the first people who start teaching that religion. Every Religion Has either one or more founders. Hinduism has hundreds of founders who have taught Hinduism in different times. The special name given to these founders is rishi. These rishis can actually experience God. Rishis can be young or old, male or female. Here is a picture of an ancient rishi and a picture of a rishi who lived only fifty years ago called Ramana MaharshiSivaneri Life Centre, 2009

Ancient Rishi

Ramana Rishi3

Holy Writings Whatever the rishis learnt about God is found in important books of Hinduism called the Vedas. Hinduism also has lots of stories. These stories are found in books called the Puranas

Sivaneri Life Centre, 2009


Hindu PrayerThe main Hindu prayer is called the Gayatri. The main Hindu prayer Gayatri Prayer: isThe prayer is written in an ancient language called the Gayatri. Let us meditate on called Sanskrit The prayer is written in the glorious light of God. May She an ancient language enlighten our hearts called Sanskrit Gayatri Prayer: and direct our Let us meditate on the glorious light of God. understanding. our May She enlighten our hearts and direct understanding.Sivaneri Life Centre, 2009 5

Thinking of God like a person Hindus say that we can think of God like a person. We cannot think of a person who does not have a shape, so Hindus give shape to God. But what shape do they give to God? Lots of different shapes! Hindus are allowed to choose the way they like to think about God. It is easier to think of God with shape than without shape. A lot of Hindus like to think of God as a father in heaven. But why only as a father? Many Hindus prefer to think of God as a mother in heaven. Hindus can choose the way they like to think of God. Here are two of the ways Hindus like to think of God.Sivaneri Life Centre, 2009 6

THINK OF GOD Hindus prefer to think of God as a mother in heaven. Hindus can choose the way they like to think of God. Here are two of the ways Hindus like to think of God. One way Hindus think of God as a person is: KrishnaSivaneri Life Centre, 2009 7

Mother Goddess-DurgaEven though there is only one God, Hindus say there are hundreds of ways of thinking about God. All the different images and pictures in Hindu homes and temples are different ways Hindus like to think about the same God.Sivaneri Life Centre, 2009 8

We can think of God without shape Some Hindus do not like to think of God with shape like a person. They like to think of God without shape. But how can we think of God without shape? It is not that hard. We all believe in truth, love, and power. None of these have any shape, but Fire keeps we still know that they are there. Changing Shapes This is how some Hindus like to think of God. Sometimes they use fire as a symbol of God without shape because fire does not have any one shape.Sivaneri Life Centre, 2009 9

How can the same God be with and without shape? Yes, it is possible, say the Hindus. Think of ice and water. Ice has a shape, but water has none. But ice and water are really the same thing. In the same way, Hindus say that God can have a shape, and can also be without shape. We can think of God in many different ways, but it is still the same God with or without shape. The same thing can be with and without a shape like ........Ice and WaterSivaneri Life Centre, 2009 10

Another way Hindus think of God is as our innermost Self. Hindus say that if we meditate hard, and search inside ourselves to try and find out who we truly are; we find God. It is the same God who lives in all of us. Hindus call our innermost-Self, Atman : God as all of us. This is why when Hindus meet they greet each other by putting Their Hands together, bowing down and saying Namaste. This word means: There is God in youSivaneri Life Centre, 2009 11

Why respect everyone and everything?

If we hurt anyone, we hurt ourselves, because it is the same God that lives in all of us. We should respect and love everyone and everything, because it is the same God who lives in everything and everyone.

Sivaneri Life Centre, 2009


Hindu Beliefs The Cycle of Life Hindus believe that after we die, we are reborn. We continue to be reborn until we find God. The only thing that comes with us when we die and are reborn is our character. If we are clever we are reborn as clever.

Sivaneri Life Centre, 2009


Hindu Beliefs Can we be reborn as a butterfly? It might be fun to be born as a butterfly, but it is not likely. We start by being born as a lower life form, but then over many life times we are slowly reborn as higher and higher beings until we become human. It would be difficult to be reborn as a butterfly after being a human being.Sivaneri Life Centre, 2009 14

The Law of KarmaHindus say that whatever we do will produce results, these results cannot be avoided. This is called the Law of Karma. For example if we work hard in school we become clever, if we do bad things we get punished. The Law of Karma says that this cannot be avoided. We are responsible for everything we do and what will happen to us. Everything we do produces some results that cannot be avoided. This is why we have to be careful about even the smallest thing we do. If we do good things, good results will follow. If we do wrong things, bad things are bound to catch up with us.Sivaneri Life Centre, 2009 15

Different ways to reach GodHindus say that all religions are different ways to reach God. No one religion is better than any other. To say that all religions take us to the same God is called Pluralism. There are different ways to reach God within Hinduism itself. Some people are very clever and like to find God by reasoning alone. There are some who like to reach God through love. Others like to meditate and find God. While there are some who like to reach God by doing good deeds. Hindus are free to choose the way or ways they want to use to reach God. As we are all different and have different characters and abilities we choose different ways to reach God.Sivaneri Life Centre, 2009 16

Hindu Practices Worship Any activity we do that takes us closer to God is a form of worship. In Hinduism, there are no hard and fast rules about when or how to pray. There are only some guidelines. A lot of Hindus find the best times to worship are at dawn (when the sun is just coming up) and at dusk (when the sun is just setting). These are times when everything seems so peaceful.Sivaneri Life Centre, 2009 17

Worship is called Puja Worship is called Puja Shrine is the place in the home where God is worshipped. The Deity is the form of God being worshipped. A picture or statue of the deity is placed on a raised and decorated platform. A lamp is lit to show that we want to go from darkness to light. It shows that we want to find God.Sivaneri Life Centre, 2009 18

Worship is called Puja Water may be sprinkled around the shrine for purity Flowers may be offered to show that we are offering our heart to God. Fruit and food may be offered to God to offer thanks. At the end of the worship, the food becomes holy. This food is then called Prashad. It is shared and eaten by worshippers.Sivaneri Life Centre, 2009 19

Worship is called Puja Incense may be burnt. The sweet scent goes everywhere to remind us that God is everywhere. Bell may be rung to awaken the deity. The sound of the bell can be used blocks out other sounds disturbing the puja. Tilak is a mark made on the forehead when doing the worship ceremony. Hindus concentrate on this spot when they meditate. This mark is made using red powder.Sivaneri Life Centre, 2009 20

Worship is called Puja Prayers and Sacred Scriptures may be read or sung during the Puja ceremony Arti is the welcoming ceremony of God. Lamps are waved gently in front of the image and holy songs are sung. Camphor is burnt at the end of the puja to show that we have to burn our pride.Sivaneri Life Centre, 2009 21

Temple WorshipWorship in the temple: Hindus say that temples are the homes of God on earth. There are no hard and fast rules about when to go to the temple. Hindus go to the temple to get darshan of God. This means they wish to catch sight of God. They may take flowers and fruits, or other items to offer to God. When they arrive at the temple, they remove their shoes before entering the temple as a mark of respect.Sivaneri Life Centre, 2009 22

Temple worship At the entrance to the temple people ring a bell to announce their presence to God. The main deity of the temple is placed in the inner shrine. The outer walls of the temples may have smaller shrines housing other deities. The worship ceremony is similar to the worship at home. The congregation sings glories of God. These songs are called bhajans. The priest performs the arti ceremony by gently waving a tray with oil-lamps in front of the deity. The arti-tray is then passed around, people cup their hands over the lamps to receive blessings. Some people go around the deity in the inner shrine to pay their respects. Prashad, the food and fruit that was offered


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